ISLAMABAD: Oxfam launched ‘We Can’ campaign to end violence against women to mark the ‘International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women’. Country Director of Oxfam, Iftikhar Khalid said that Oxfam is launching the campaign that would spread over 127 days (Nov 25, 2008 to Mar 31, 2009) by holding1,000 events per districts covering two dozen districts consist of seminars, rallies, fun fairs, interactive dialogues and meetings with community members, theatrical performances, debates in educational institutions and many other activities aimed at promoting ‘violence-free’ society in Pakistan.
He said that according to the Asian Development Bank, 85% of women in Pakistan have experienced violence at some time in their lives, which mars all aspects of their well-being. “Although our message touches every one, but its focus is the rural or semi urban population which needs to be mobilised to undo those taboos and customs which promote anti women attitudes”, he added.
There will be more then 24,000 events arranged by the change makers themselves. It is expected that about 500,000 people will be directly or indirectly touched by these events in Pakistan. The objective is mass awareness and engagement on the issue of violence against women.
The 1,000 events per district are a part of Oxfam’s nation wide campaign called ‘We Can End Violence Against Women” campaign, which was initiated in 2005. ‘
We Can’ campaign is about change in the attitudes and beliefs of a critical mass of ordinary people through simple and small actions in their daily lives to end violence against women. Currently, there are 144,000 volunteer change makers engaged with the campaign in 1,036 union councils, 90 tehsils in 29 districts of Pakistan.
The target is to reach 700,000 change makers by the year 2011. Change makers represent all strata of the society; they are students, teachers, lawyers, farmers, housewives, clergy, police, media, traders, policy makers and many others.
The campaign is steered by 400 national allies, while Oxfam supports their initiatives and participates as an alliance member. This campaign is a regional level initiative and these 1,000 events are being launched simultaneously in six South Asian Countries. Across the region, the campaign has engaged over 1.2 million change makers through 1,800 alliance members.
Explaining the strategy Dr. Farhat Sheikh, Oxfam Programme Manger said that the strategy is not to isolate the perpetrators, but to engage them. She added, “If the Domestic Violence Bill gets approved by the parliament, it will play a significant role in protecting those who experience domestic violence”.-SANA